Over the last couple of years, we have had countless conversations with agencies about white-labeled digital marketing services. From one-person consultancies to midsize agencies with 200+ people. All had the same questions and challenges; how should they identify and evaluate the right white label partner.
To start, there are a number of different reasons for exploring a white label partnership. Each of these reasons leads to different services and needs. Below are a few of the most common reasons for considering a white label agency partner:
- You are struggling to offer a specific service at the right price to make a profit.
- Your agency has expanded its service offering but doesn’t have enough revenue to start hiring a full and experienced team.
- You want to accelerate business without adding additional financial burden.
- You have had a recent talent loss.
- You have a hard time hiring qualified experts to provide services.
Once your agency determines why you need white label support, then you can outline a Custom Needs Analysis for the relationship. Identify the problems or challenges you have and put them formally in writing. You’ll want to ask yourself questions like: do you need long-term or short-term support, are you looking for a strategic partner or simple task completion?
The following sections will be used as a guide to build your Custom Needs Analysis and evaluate potential agencies. We will dive into the considerations you need to explore to find the perfect partnership.
- Service Offerings
- Service Level
- Agency Experience
1. Consider Service Offerings
When deciding to engage a company or individual that can provide you with white label services, you first have to think about what services you need or may need in the future. For example, are you looking for execution services only? This is where your partner develops, sets up, manages, and then reports on the campaigns? Or, do you need more? For instance, do you need help with the overall strategic planning and consulting? There is no right or wrong answer for this as it is purely based on your needs analysis. However, there are questions that you should be asking your white-label partner candidates when reviewing them as a possible white-label partner:
- What Services Do You Offer?
- What Services Are Your Core Expertise?
- Do You Have Any Examples Of Work In [X] Industry?
- What Is Your Process?
- Do You Prefer To Be Client Facing Or Behind The Scenes?
- What Does a Typical Deliverable for [X] Look Like?
- What [Service Specific] Tools Do You Regularly Use?
Many of these questions should not only give you insight into the types of services provided but should also be a good indication of skill level. If you’re looking for a highly-skilled white label partner, they need to be able to give you clear answers on process, deliverables, tools, and experience.
2. Look at Level of Service
It’s crucial to understand what level of service a provider is willing and able to provide. You need to be sure that the potential agency is able to take on the work that you hire them for. Back to your original needs analysis, do you want a team that is agile, able to take on large projects on short notice, or are you more flexible and just need help with projects on longer deadlines?
Many white label partners use software solutions that allow you to brief your partner on new clients, campaigns, changes to existing activities, and more. A monthly report is commonly sent by email or is available in the reporting solution they use. In contrast, fewer private label companies offer tailored solutions. It can be a challenge if the account manager is only available through a ticketing system or via email. Often you want and will need face-to-face or phone conversations to clarify issues and solve problems.To help you with growing your existing clients and winning new ones, options may be limited unless you want to invest at a premium level.
Here are a few questions to consider when reviewing your potential digital marketing partner:
- How Quickly Do You Typically Deliver A Project?
- What Is Your Capacity To Take On New Projects Today? 6 Months From Now?
- Will I Get An Account Manager Or Single Point Of Contact?
- What is your level of responsiveness, and can you offer quick turnaround times when required??
Service level is also a key driver of cost. Although the cost may be higher, you also get faster turnarounds, customized service, and consistent communication.
3. Agency and Employee Experience
When looking for the right white label partner, you’ll need to map out what experience an agency should have to align with your clients/accounts. Are your clients typically local store owners with small budgets or are you working with global organizations that have million-dollar budgets? You’ll want to find a partner that has the expertise needed to properly support the projects at hand.
Expertise related questions to pose to a potential white label partner:
- What Is The Average-Sized Website/Budget They Work With?
- Have They Worked On Local, Regional, National, Or International Accounts?
- How Many Years Of Experience Does My Contact Have? What About The Team As A Whole?
- Has The Agency Worked In Similar Industries Or Markets?
- Are Your Accounts Typically B2B Or B2C?
The above questions should help to pinpoint the experience level of that agency and determine if it properly fits with your needs analysis. It’s also important to remember that experience is really important when it comes to the success of your projects and overall client relationships. You would be wiser to work with the right partner that elevates your services, rather than a less expensive partner that doesn’t execute to the level that you need or expect.
4. Trust is Key
Trust is the basis of any healthy relationship, a digital marketing partner isn’t any different. You should be able to trust that your partner has been truthful about their past experience and will produce the needed products on time and at a high quality.
Trust is even more crucial with a white label agency because they are creating products that will represent your brand to your clients. You need to be able to rely on the fact that those deliverables are on par with your business. For the relationship to be successful, your white label partner must mirror your agency’s ethics, service level, expertise level, and more.
When it comes to evaluating if you can trust a white label agency, it’s less black and white compared to some of the other metrics we’ve reviewed. The best way to determine the trustworthiness of a digital marketing partner is through a trial period. Consider taking on one project together. Through this project, you should be able to see their level of expertise, timeliness and come to an understanding about how you’ll work together as a team in the future.
5. Location, Location, Location
When it comes to a successful white label partnership, you may want to think about location. Location considerations include:
- Do You Need A Partner That Can Meet In Person?
- Do You Want/Need A US-Based Partner with execution staff in your timezone?
Most agencies don’t need to work with a white label partner that is located in the same state or region because technology allows us to meet from anywhere. However, there should be more consideration when it comes to US-based vs offshore partnerships. Offshore options are much cheaper than US-based agencies but there are risks with working with partners in another country. Some of these risks include language barriers, lack of control, and possible information security risks. Be aware that some US-based agencies have their business operations in the US, but may have entire teams for account management, strategy, and execution offshore. In your initial meetings with a new white label partner, make sure to ask about team locations and their use of offshore labor.
The ideal setup for your business will be determined by your needs analysis, but also by your budget. Keep in mind that US-based service is likely higher quality with faster response times; however, the cost will be higher than an offshore service.
6. Understand Costs
Most business decisions come down to the dollars and cents. You may want a white label agency that has extensive experience, high service levels with the ability for in-person meetings but your budget won’t allow for that. Look for a partner that is willing to understand your budgets and gives you honest prices for quality work.
Another aspect of costs that should be considered is how pricing works. If you are looking for a paid search partner, then ask questions like “Do you bill hourly or percent of ad spend or something different?” This will give you an idea of how costs are incurred and if that aligns with your own billing and client terms.
Once you understand the services, service level, trustworthiness, location, and costs of an agency, you can kick off a robust and well-thought-through white label partnership. Agency relationships can be incredibly successful and beneficial to both sides when the right match is made. Symphonic Digital has extensive experience offering white label solutions of all sizes to our agencies of different sizes. We custom build a solution that is right for each agency client. If you’re interested in more information about Symphonic Digital’s white-label options, visit our White Label overview page. Good luck finding your perfect match.